In Pakistan, IPO-Pakistan (Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan) is present which was developed in 2005 as an autonomous body. The main functions of IPO-Pakistan are protection of Intellectual property by coordinating all systems of Government, control all offices of IP, give awareness about IP rights and make sure the implementation of IP rules.
Ethical Issues And Biosafety In Biotechnology
Keywords: Agriculture, Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Breeding Techniques, GMOs, Controversy, Ethical and Moral Issues, Bioethics, Biosafety Measures, Institutional Biosafety Committee, Technical Advising Committee, National BioSafety Committee, IPO-Pakistan
World’s population is increasing rapidly day by day. With the increase in numbers, their need for food has also increased. Agriculture sector has fulfilled the need of food on large scale. Agriculture has not only provided food but also clothes, medicines and shelters to the people. Agriculture field plays a vital role in the economy of any country for example agriculture field acts like backbone of our country, Pakistan. Biotechnology and modern breeding techniques have revolutionized the field of agriculture. As a result, numbers of modifications have occurred for example production of insect and pest resistant crops, bacterial resistant crops, viral resistant crops and high yielding crops. Many GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have produced by using these advanced biotechnology techniques. In recent years, the use of biotechnology techniques in plant breeding has become hot controversy topic particularly in advanced countries. People are not ready to use GMOs because they think that production of GMOs has highly adverse effects on the human health as well as on environment and this is studied under bioethics. Moreover, all the questions related about the use of new invented technologies are also answered through bioethics. The hot topics that are under studied of bioethics are death, pre-birth issues, human reproduction, human cloning, stem cell research and new genetics. The research of biotechnology is going on and every country tries to develop novel GMOs. In every country, biosafety measures are imposed on the whole research of biotechnology to minimize the risks of adverse effects on humans and environment.
Biotechnology is a branch of science that deals with the benefits for humanity by the use of micro-organisms. Biotechnology is applicable on every organism and classified on that basis like human biotechnology, plant biotechnology and many others. Numbers of useful products have been produced by the use of biotechnology like insulin production, gene therapy, cloning and many others. About 70 institutes of biotechnology are present in Pakistan. Plant biotechnology has served a lot in plant breeding field for example production of resistant plant varieties like bacterial resistant, insects and pests resistant, drought resistant and salinity resistant, heat resistant and high yielding crops.
Morals and Ethics:
People say right or wrong about any issues on the bases of their views, beliefs and concerns. This behavior of people is known as morals. Ethics are scrutiny processes that throw spotlight on our moral views for analyzing and clarification. Ethics are different from morals and also narrow approach. If people think about moral concerns then it is not necessary that ethical concerns are also under study at the same time. It is due to moral concerns and ethical issues that public attitude of people have changed about the use of biotechnology and these ethics are known as bioethics. In bioethics, scientists study the philosophy of ethics that are applied during applications of biological and medical processes, treatments and technologies for example genetic engineering. Ethics and moral issues come under study with the interference in nature. However, the natural processes are either beneficial or harmful for example earthquake is a natural disaster. So, keeping in view this point, it can conclude that on the basis of some facts about any natural process, we cannot say that this is ethically and morally wrong or right. Some examples which are under the study of bioethics are organ transplant, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, stem cell research and genetic engineering.
Ours Concerns and Fears:
God is creator of the world that has created all the creations with 100% perfection. Biotechnology not only interferes in the natural machinery but also tries to do creation by itself. Biotechnologists manipulate the DNA (basic unit of life) across the boundaries of species and their interference in nature is just sinful (in humans and animals cases). People of all religions claim that modern biotechnology wants to displace the first Creator and works like co-creator. People have many fears about the production of genetically modified organisms for example they think that genetic pollution occurs, supra-weeds are produced (supra-weeds are resistant to pesticides and herbicides), genetic diversity losses and wild-life habitats loss are due to these GMOs production.
Due to modern innovations in the field of biotechnology, a large economy gap has developed between developed and under-developed countries. The reason is that new innovated products of biotechnology are not affordable for the poor farmers. While developed countries adopt these products easily and enhanced their agricultural progress. That’s why it is a matter of great concern for the under-developing countries. People also have concern about the maintenance of integrity of plant species after the genetic engineering. Along with the integrity of plant species, biodiversity of plants and insects are also at the risk by the use of genetic engineering in plants.
People think that new products which are produced by the biotechnology may be allergic to humans. For example, in 2013, people of Philippine destroyed the field of Golden rice (GMO rice) due to their fears about genetically modified crops. They demand that GMO products should be labeled before introducing in the market so that people are able to choose those that they want.
How to tackle this fear:
To tackle all these fears and concerns of people, every country has developed their organizations which deal with the GMO products (Registry, License, Patent, Copyright etc) that are studied under biosafety. The main function of biosafety is to keep humans and environment safe by the control of biohazard effects of GMOs. In Pakistan, IPO-Pakistan (Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan) is present which was developed in 2005 as an autonomous body. The main functions of IPO-Pakistan are protection of Intellectual property by coordinating all systems of Government, control all offices of IP, give awareness about IP rights and make sure the implementation of IP rules. There are 3 systems that help for the implementation of biosafety rules are IBC (Institutional Biosafety Committee), TAC (Technical advising Committee) and NBC (National Biosafety Committee).
There are 10 members in NBC. NBC performs numbers of functions for biosafety. For example, NBC introduces standards and procedures for assessment and labeling of GMOs. It takes decisions on the base of recommendations of TAC. NBC has authority to ban the products which don’t obey the biosafety rules. It develops links with the NBC of other countries. NBC cooperates with other such bodies (government agencies as well as private agencies) to enforce biosafety rules. It ensures the implementation of biosafety rules in all stages for example in laboratory, fields and commercial release. NBC gives certification to all biosafety levels in labs. It inspects the all instruments present in laboratories. NBC maintains the secrecy of all the scientists who wants.
TAC gives recommendations to NBC after examining the applications. It ensures that all IBCs either follow biosafety measures or not. TAC examines the research methodology that is adopted by the Pakistan. Moreover, it also monitors the field trials of GMOs and release of product in the market. TAC provides all the necessary information that is required to NBC and ensures implementation of biosafety rules.
While IBC is the third system for the implementation of biosafety rules and its main function is giving allow to work in BSL-1. IBC has no authority to supervise BSL-2 and BSL-3. IBC assists TAC and NBC. It organizes training programs and ensures additional safeguards. IBC checks the qualification of all researchers who are attached to this research field. It monitors the research work on regular bases and forces the researchers to obey biosafety rules. IBC takes care of workers of fields and researchers. IBC checks out the all export and import GMOs material strictly. IBC has authority to stop funding of researchers who don’t follow the biosafety measures.
Need of the day:
When a product of biotechnology fails to work efficiently and is not accepted by the people then biotechnologists don’t need to give arguments for proving that biotechnology is beneficial and good for humanity. It is logically not possible that biotechnologists give guarantee for the safety of GMOs because every innovation comes with its own risks and benefits. While the need of the time is that biotechnologists have to work on moral and ethical issues related to the GMO’s products. It is not necessary that a newly produced GMO is 100% wrong or right. It is possible that newly produced GMO has some issues but on the base of some that issues, it is not right to ban all these GMO. If GMOs are banned then we are saying stop to innovations in the field of science. These innovations are need of humanity in near future. To fulfill the needs of growing populations and for moving towards progress, there is need to support innovations in the fields of sciences.